Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random Republican, The First

Along with interesting Presidential candidates, lately we've been getting a strange spurt of random Republican politicians. A couple weeks ago E and I went to see Newt Gingrich speak. When I've thought of Gingrich, which has not been often, I've always pictured this rotund, sweaty man preaching that President Clinton was reprehensible. I certainly didn't expect to find him to be quite charismatic and funny. I'm going to go ahead and assume it's mostly due to speechwriters, but I guess you don't get elected so many times without having a decent public presence. I thought I'd share some quick thoughts from his speech:
  1. He's positioning himself as a centrist; he even said he thinks Senator Clinton has an 80% chance of winning the presidency. Interestingly, J pointed out that Gingrich recently said he'd consider running for president if his people could raise enough money, although as of today he's saying he won't because he can't keep working for his non-profit.
  2. As with all politicians, I'm learning, he talked a lot about problems without giving any real solutions. Specifically, he said education is broken and we’re not likely to get any answers because the media is too into soundbites. His eventual "solution" for this was that technology would solve everything. Okay...
  3. He spent the talk being very pro-science and pro-technology, which of course was appropriate for the audience. Specifically, he said 2/3 of all new knowledge will come from outside the US because we don’t have the relative mass of scientists. He made no mention, of course, of the fact that his party keeps cutting funding for science research.
  4. On the other hand, you can tell he’s not an engineer because he told an anecdote about how he never knows how much money he takes out of foreign ATMs (he doesn’t do the math, just guesses based on where the number is). He asked for a show of hands of who else is in the same boat but didn't get very many.
  5. A couple of soundbites: "The Republican battle cry for next year is 'we’re bad, they’re worse'" and "Nobody has made money in America betting against the Clintons"
  6. He gave us a history lesson - apparently the US has had 8 cycles of fundamental change, whatever that means. Along with Jefferson's time and Lincoln's era, he said his “Contract with America” is one of those fundamental cycle. Humility may not be one of his greatest virtues.
  7. And of course, I have to critique his website, First of all, the ego in using his first name is pretty astonishing. Secondly, it's funny he doesn't own On his website you can pay to download his iNewt podcasts, and real Newt fans can buy a signed gavel for $199. Hanukkah is coming up, but please don't buy one for me.
  8. Finally, he ended by saying, “Tell all your smart friends to vote or they have no cause to gripe when the dumb people are in charge!” I'm embarrassed to admit I couldn't have put it better myself.

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